Naknek Lake, Alaska, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Alaska - Southwest -

Naknek Lake is located southwest of Anchorage on the Alaskan Peninsula. The lake is the fifth largest in Alaska, covering 144,315 acres* in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness. The lake is the largest in the national park system and a prime destination for nature lovers, being especially known for its bear viewing, volcanic sightseeing, fishing, and boating.

Surrounding Lake Naknek is the Katmai National Park and Preserve, a 3.7 million acre wilderness area and a place of archaeological and historical significance. The area contains the greatest concentrations of prehistoric dwellings in Alaska. Katmai includes 15 of Alaska’s 70 active volcanoes, and was the site of the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Katmai contains three distinct land areas: the coastline of the Shelikof Strait, the mountains of the Aleutian Range, and the lake region that includes Naknek Lake. The land contains both tundra and forests, making it habitable for a variety of wildlife including caribou, moose, bear, wolves, and red fox, as well as waterfowl such as tundra swans, ducks, and loons. Sea lions, sea otters, and whales can be seen along the coastline of the park. The park is mainly undisturbed wilderness, and there are only two marked hiking trails: one at Ukak Falls, and another at Dumpling Mountain, which overlooks Naknek Lake. Backcountry hiking and camping are options for experienced adventurers, or with the aid of an expert guide. Travel within the park is not easy; most visitors to Katmai arrive via a commercial flight from Anchorage. Charter air taxis and boat tours are available for visitors, and most local inns and lodges provide transportation for their guests.

Near Lake Naknek is Brooks Camp, a place known for some of the best bear watching in the world. Alaskan brown bears can be found in large numbers here, attracted by the sockeye salmon that migrate by the thousands from the Pacific Ocean through Bristol Bay and Naknek Lake to their spawning grounds in Brooks Lake. The best spot for viewing the bears is at Brooks Falls, where dozens of bears can be seen at a time fishing for salmon in the waterfall and swimming in the waters below the falls. Viewing platforms give visitors an excellent view of the falls and are a prime spot for photography.

The shores of Naknek Lake are also home to a unique geological feature known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The eruption of the Novarupta Volcano in 1912, the largest eruption of the 20th century, covered the Ukak River Valley with 40 square miles of ash and debris to a depth of hundreds of feet. The water in the valley became superheated, discharging steam up to 500 feet in the air and giving the valley its distinctive name. Although the valley no longer smokes, many visitors travel each year to tour the area and hike the valley.

Fishing is a popular activity at Naknek Lake. The lake is especially known for its sockeye salmon, and by the end of July nearly a million salmon have made their way to the lake and its surrounding tributaries to spawn. Rainbow trout also reach an impressive size in the lake by feeding off the abundant salmon eggs. The lake is also home to arctic char, arctic grayling, dolly varden, lake trout, and northern pike. Many local lodges and fishing guides are available to cater to visiting anglers. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities at Lake Naknek. The lake’s glacial waters are pristine, and paddlers can put to shore and explore the rocky islands protruding from the lake’s waters. Many paddlers also boat the Savonoski Loop, an 80 mile circuit that includes boating on Naknek Lake as well as other connecting rivers and lakes. This trip provides stunning scenery of the wilderness and wildlife surrounding Naknek Lake.

Naknek Lake promises the trip of a lifetime for those lucky enough to pay a visit. From its stunning scenery to its remarkable wildlife, the Naknek area is home to sights that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. If you have a passion for the great outdoors, Naknek Lake is the ideal place to plan your great Alaskan adventure.

*Acreage figures are from the Alaskan Department of Hydrology. Shoreline lengths are not given as most of Alaska’s large lakes have ill-defined shorelines. Water collecting in the lakes does not pass through the permafrost level and thus must either dissipate via evaporation or river drainage. Most shorelines are seasonal wetlands, and their size depends on the amount of snow-melt and precipitation. Many lakes have no outlet, so water simply continues to collect there, causing the lake to grow larger.

Things to do at Naknek Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park

Fish species found at Naknek Lake

  • Char
  • Dolly Varden Trout
  • Grayling
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Trout

Naknek Lake Photo Gallery

Naknek Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 154,880 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 33 feet

Lake Area-Population: 577

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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